Into the Wild Blue Yonder
I’m publishing separately this comment by a reader (“anonymous”) to my post, “Hullabaloo,” because it puts a name to the rumor that is rampant on the A&M campus that Rick Perry wants a general to be the next president of the university.
It is not that Perry did not want any of the qualified candidates that were recommended by the search committee, it is just that he wants his fellow classmate and former student of A&M (class of 71), T. Michael Moseley, current Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, to become the next President of Texas A&M.
This is the most credible story I have heard to date. It certainly makes more sense than Perry wanting McKinney to hold the job for him. Perry has had an incredible career for someone who started out as a legislative back-bencher from a tiny town, but his moves have always been within his abilities. He has never bitten off more than he could chew. He knows he has no business in an academic job. The question is, does a general have any business in an academic job? Well, Dwight Eisenhower was president of Columbia after World War II, and both went on to great success.
According to his Air Force biography, General Moseley earned a Master’s degree in political science from A&M in 1972, the year after he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He does not hold a terminal degree, unlike, say, General David Petraeus, who has a Ph.D in international relations from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton. A&M’s greatest president, Earl Rudder, was a general; however, he did hold a terminal degree (LL.D, Doctor of Laws). Robert Gates, who stepped down (up?) to become Secretary of Defense a year ago, leaving a vacancy that has yet to be filled, had a Ph.D in Russian and Soviet History from Georgetown University. The last Texas A&M president (not counting interims) who did not have a terminal degree was Gibb Gilchrist (1944-48), a civil engineer and dean of engineering, who was elevated to the presidency.
I am not going to prejudge General Moseley, except to say that if he becomes president, it is a good thing that he has a political science degree, because academic politics can be very tricky, and nowhere moreso than at Texas A&M.